Reduced nicotine content cigarettes: effects on toxicant exposure, dependence and cessation.

January 11, 2010

University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center

Hatsukami et al. – February 2010, Addiction. 105:343-355

Key Takeaways

  • VLNC cigarettes produced significantly better results than the FDA-approved nicotine lozenge; even the smokers who ultimately did not quit ended up reducing their cigarette consumption by 37%
  • The 0.05 mg nicotine yield cigarettes may be a tobacco product that can facilitate cessation
  • This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), (grant id: P50 DA013333)


  • Aims: To examine the effects of reduced nicotine cigarettes on smoking behavior, toxicant exposure, dependence and abstinence.
  • Design: Randomized, parallel arm, semi-blinded study. Setting University of Minnesota Tobacco Use Research Center.
  • Interventions: Six weeks of: (i) 0.05 mg nicotine yield cigarettes; (ii) 0.3 mg nicotine yield cigarettes; or (iii) 4 mg nicotine lozenge; 6 weeks of follow-up. Measurements Compensatory smoking behavior, biomarkers of exposure, tobacco dependence, tobacco withdrawal and abstinence rate.
  • Findings: Unlike the 0.3 mg cigarettes, 0.05 mg cigarettes were not associated with compensatory smoking behaviors. Furthermore, the 0.05 mg cigarettes and nicotine lozenge were associated with reduced carcinogen exposure, nicotine dependence and product withdrawal scores. The 0.05 mg cigarette was associated with greater relief of withdrawal from usual brand cigarettes than the nicotine lozenge. The 0.05 mg cigarette led to a significantly higher rate of cessation than the 0.3 mg cigarette and a similar rate as nicotine lozenge.
  • Conclusion: The 0.05 mg nicotine yield cigarettes may be a tobacco product that can facilitate cessation; however, future research is clearly needed to support these preliminary findings.
Trial registration: NCT00777569.